Factors Associated with Persistently High Muscular Power from Childhood to Adulthood

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2020 Jan;52(1):49-55. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002108.


Purpose: Child and adult muscular power have been shown to associate with contemporary cardiometabolic health. Muscular power typically persists (tracks) between childhood and adulthood. Few studies span childhood to adulthood, so we aimed to identify modifiable and environmental factors associated with the persistence or change in muscular power across the life course.

Methods: Prospective study examining 1938 participants who had their muscular power (standing long jump distance) measured in 1985 as children 7-15 yr old and again 20 yr later in adulthood (26-36 yr old). A selection of objectively measured anthropometric characteristics (adiposity and fat-free mass), cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), self-reported physical activity, dietary (quality and fruit, vegetable, and protein intake), and sociodemographic data were available at both time points. Muscular power was separated into thirds, and participants were reported as having persistently low, decreasing, persistently moderate, increasing, or persistently high muscular power.

Results: Higher adiposity, lower physical activity, diet quality and socioeconomic status (SES) across the life course, and lower adult CRF were associated with persistently low muscular power. Lower adult protein intake and an increase in adiposity over time were associated with decreasing muscular power. An increase in fat-free mass was associated with a reduced probability of decreasing or persistently high muscular power and an increased probability of increasing muscular power. Higher adult fruit intake was associated with increasing muscular power. Lower adiposity across the life course, higher adult CRF and SES, and higher child protein intake were associated with persistently high muscular power.

Conclusion: Healthy weight, good CRF, greater protein intake, and high SES are important correlates of high muscular power maintained from childhood to adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness*
  • Child
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Social Class*